Jewish Family Services provided Companion Pets, animated robotic therapy dogs and cats, for six residents of Heritage Manor Rehabilitation & Retirement Community. They were presented to the residents Aug. 4.
The therapy pets are designed to bring comfort, companionship, and fun to those with Alzheimer’s. The pets have realistic fur, make pet-like sounds, and have sensors that respond to petting and hugs with familiar pet-like actions. Therapy pets have a remarkable effect on people in the middle and later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. They are calming, soothing, and bring the person back to a time in their life when they felt useful and had a sense of purpose; when caring for a young family member was the number one priority.
“They provide sensory and emotional stimulation for the recipients,” said Lynne Azar, JFCS senior outreach coordinator. “The pets are interactive,” she added. “You feel like you have a real pet. The fur is very soft and realistic. The cat purrs and vibrates like a cat and the dog responds with barking.” The pets were purchased with Mahoning Mental Health Board grant money for senior outreach in Mahoning County.